Conversations with convicted burglars offer a wealth of information to homeowners who seek to protect their property from a criminal invasion. Using these insights, homeowners can identify how their house presents a target to this shifty group of criminals.
What makes them “shifty”?
Research indicates that burglars are both unpredictable and opportunistic.
Most home burglars are unpredictable and make decisions on the fly, with little or no planning. In a recent study, less than one-third of the convicted burglar respondents collected any information about their targets, while 41 percent said they committed their crimes on the “spur-of-the-moment.” Less than 15 percent of respondents reported that they planned their thefts.
They will take advantage of their circumstances. Sometimes the thief poses as a credible community member, like a delivery person or door-to-door salesperson to gain entry. Some are actually employees of reliable companies, returning to the homes they canvassed while doing their “day job.”
Accordingly, because it is impossible to identify a potential thief on sight, homeowners should anticipate that anyone they see in their neighborhood is a potential burglar.
What attracts them to a house?
Conversely, they DO look for houses that appear to have easy access, will provide good cover or offer safe getaway opportunities.
Unlocked doors, especially garage doors, are the fastest way into the home, and if there are no people around, the criminal can be in and out in mere minutes. Unlocked windows are also popular, even those on the second story if there is an easy way to get to them, like a tree or shed.
Houses that are apparently unoccupied are also targets. Stacks of newspapers or unbroken snow on the walk are signs that there is no one home, and no one looking.
These thieves are looking for ways to get out as well as ways to get in. Dense shrubs and trees around windows and doors can be enticing because they provide visual shields and the criminal can easily hide behind them or crawl beneath them to make their getaway.
What deters them from a house?
Most thieves are looking for a quick and easy opportunity to line their pockets at the homeowner’s expense, so they will shy away from homes that have obvious deterrent properties. They will avoid houses on busy streets with lots of traffic; homes that have people in or around them and any location where police are in view.
They also usually avoid homes that have visible indicators of security systems, such as alarm signs, mounted cameras or even “beware of dog” signs. They don’t want to attract attention in any way to their activities.
The biggest deterrent, however, is the presence of an alarm system. In the study, more than half of the respondents said they would avoid a home with an alarm system, and stop their attempt if they discovered one after starting their break-in. Those who spent any time planning their invasion deliberately chose homes that did not have alarm systems installed.
“Expert” advice informs homeowners
With this “expert” information from the thieves themselves, you can help homeowners can take steps to protect their homes from burglars.